BOSTON -- If the White Sox are going to go down, they won’t be going easy.
On a day of blown opportunities, the White Sox fashioned one last rally in the ninth inning, using all of their creative might.
They scored twice to tie the score on two separate bloopers to center field that fell just out of the reach of Red Sox center fielder Ryan Kalish. Then they won it, 7-5, with a pair of bases-loaded walks to Gordon Beckham and Juan Pierre.
The White Sox have now won six consecutive games, but the way they won on Sunday, earning a rare three-game series sweep at Fenway Park, might have helped on the mental side.
Obviously, the White Sox are feeling good about things, which could lead to even more confident play at Detroit this week. But the victory might have caused a mental shift of a different kind.
The first-place Minnesota Twins haven’t necessarily been in the heads of the White Sox, but their constant winning ways haven’t made things easy. The White Sox are operating under the assumption that the Twins are going to win every day.
Sunday’s victory at Boston will go a long way toward telling the Twins that White Sox aren’t going anywhere. Somebody is going to have to earn the top spot in the American League Central, because it doesn’t look like the division title will be handed over by either team.
As the day unfolded, it looked like the White Sox would curse their blown opportunities.
They had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings and scored just one run. They had runners in scoring position in seven of the first eight innings and scored three times. They struck out 10 times with runners in scoring position.
And despite it all, the game was still there for the taking.
The White Sox’s ninth-inning rally was the kind of signature victory the White Sox can use to tell themselves they are never out of games. The rally came off Jonathan Papelbon without Manny Ramirez, used as a pinch hitter in the eighth, and Paul Konerko, who left with a stiff lower back in the ninth.
The White Sox took their first lead of the game at 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning, only to watch it disappear a half-inning later.
Victor Martinez’s two-run home run over the Green Monster in left field came on Mark Buehrle’s 118th pitch.
The White Sox still kept coming, though, providing an edge-of-your-seat moment in the eighth inning when Ramirez pinch hit for Mark Kotsay and Papelbon was called in from the bullpen.
But that moment fizzled when Ramirez was clipped by a Papelbon fastball on the right batting glove and took first base. With runners on first and second, Beckham struck out and Pierre flew out to end the threat.
It was only a warmup to the comeback that was about to come.
White Sox right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-0, 1.47) will try to extend his run of double-digit strikeout games to four. He became the first White Sox pitcher to record three consecutive since Floyd Bannister in 1985. The only other White Sox pitcher to do it was Ed Walsh in 1910. He is coming off a 129-pitch performance in Cleveland when he ended up with a no-decision.
Jackson will be opposed by Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer (10-9, 3.45), who held the Twins to one run over nine innings in his last start. He has given up more than one earned run just once over his last seven starts.